Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

was not in heaven, and, though he enjoyed God, it was in ordinances, and not in an immediate way, and accordingly it was necessary for him constantly to address himself to him, for the maintenance of that spiritual life, which he had received, together with his being; and this was not inconsistent with a state of innocency, any more than the maintenance of our natural lives, by the use of proper food, is inconsistent with health, or argues an infirm, or sickly constitution, or any need of medicine to recover it; yet our lives would be more confirmed, and, if we may so express it, less precarious, if God had ordained that they should have been supported without these means.

This may serve to illustrate the difference that there is between the happiness that the saints enjoy, in God's immediate presence in heaven, and that which is expected, as the result of our daily access to him, in ordinances, wherein we hope for some farther degree of communion with him ; the former of these man would have attended to, had he stood; the latter contained in it, that state in which he was in innocency : but inasmuch as there can be no communion with God, but what has a proportionable degree of delight and pleasure attending it; this our first parents may be said to have experienced, which contributed to the happiness of that state in which they were, though this joy was not so complete, as that is which they are possessed of, who have not only an assurance of the impossibility of losing that communion, which they have with God at present, but are arrived to a state of perfect blessedness.

2. God sanctified and instituted the Sabbath for man's more immediate access to him, and, that he might express his gratitude for the blessings he was made partaker of, and might have a recess from that secular employment, which, as was before observed, he was engaged in. This was therefore a great privilege ; and, indeed, the Sabbath was a pledge, or shadow, of an everlasting Sabbath, which he would have enjoyed in heaven, had he not forfeited, and lost it, by his fall. But we shall have occasion to speak more particularly to this'head under the fourth commandment;* and therefore all that we shall add, at present, is, that the Sabbath was instituted as a day of rest for man, even while he remained in a state of innocency. This appears from its being blessed and sanctified, upon the occasion of God's resting from his work of creation; therefore it was, at that time, set apart to be observed by him.

Object. 1. It is objected, that it might then be sanctified with this view, that man should observe it after his fall, or, in particular, at that time when the observation of it was enjoined.

Answ. To this it may be replied, that there never was any ordinance institụted, but what was designed to be observed by

See Quest. cxyi.

cency.

man, immediately after the institution thereof. Now the sanctification of the Sabbath imports as much as its institution, or setting apart for a holy use; therefore we cannot but suppose, that God designed that it should be observed by man in inno

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that it is inconsistent with the happy state, in which man was created, for God to appoint a day of rest for him, to be then observed; for rest supposes labour, and therefore is more agreeable to that state into which he brought himself by sin, when, by the sweat of his brow, he was to eat bread.

Answ. Though it is true, man, in innocency, was not exposed to that uneasiness and fatigue that attended his employment after his fall, neither was the work he was engaged in a búrthen to him, so as that he needed a day of rest to give him ease, in that respect; yet a cessation from a secular employment, attended with a more immediate access to God in his holy institutions, wherein he might hope for a greater degree of communion with him, was not inconsistent with that degree of holi- ness ard happiness, in which he was created, which, as was before obscrved, was short of the heavenly blessedness; so that, though heaven is a state, in which the saints enjoy an everlasting Sabbath, it does not follow that man, how happy soever he was in paradise, was so far favoured therein, as that a day of rest was inconsistent with that state.

3. We shall proceed to enquire how the providence of God had a more immediate reference to the spiritual or eternal happiness of man, in that he entered into a covenant of life with him, under which head we are to consider the personal concerns of our first parents therein. (a)

(a) If there had been a period in which there was absolutely no existence, there would never have been any thing. Either man, or his Creator, or one more remote, has been from eternity, unless we admit the contradiction of an eternal succession. But because to create implies power and wisdom, which we have not the least reason to imagine any creature can possess, either man, and the world he possesses, have always been, or their maker. The history of man, the structure of languages, the face of the ground, &c. shew that man and his habitation have not been from eternity; therefore God is eternal. As all excellency is in himself, or derived from him, his bappiness depends only on himself; and the worlds he haş made, are so far pleasing as they exhibit himself to himself, lle could have made his intelligent creatures all confirmed in holiness, but he chose to confer liberty, which was a blessing till abused. He knew all the consequences, and that these would exercise his mercy and justice. Partial evil he determined should produce universal good, and that no evil should take place, but that which should eventually praise him.

The first intelligent creatures were purely spiritual, and each stood or fell for himself. He united in man the spiritual and corporeal natures ; he formed his soul innocent and holy, and made ample provision for the comfort of his

body; and as it would have been inconvenient to have brought all of the human family, which were to be in every generation, upon the earth at one time, and still more VOL. II.

I.

(1.) The dispensation they were under was that of a covenant. This is allowed by most, who acknowledge the imputation of Adam's sin, and the universal corruption of nature, as consequent thereupon. And some call it, a covenant of innocency, inasmuch as it was made with man while he was in a state of innocency; others call it, a covenant of works, because perfect obedience was enjoined, as the condition of it, and so it is opposed to the covenant of grace, as there was no provision inade therein for any display of grace, as there is in that covenant which we are now under; but, in this answer, it is called the covenant of life, as having respect to the blessings promised therein.

It may seem indifferent to some, whether it ought to be termed a covenant, or a law of innocency; and, indeed, we would not contend about the use of a word, if many did not design, by what they say, concerning its being a law, and not properly a covenant, to prepare the way for the denial of the imputation of Adam's sin; or did not, at the same time, consider him as no other than the natural head of his posterity, which, if it were.to be allowed, would effectually overthrow the doctrine of original sin, as contained in some following answers. Therefore we must endeavour to prove that man was not barely under a law, but a covenant of works; and, that we may proceed with more clearness, we shall premise some things, in general, concerning the difference between a law and a covenant.

so, that, every one standmg or fathing for himselt, the earth shouid be the common habitation of beings perfectly holy, happy, and immortal, and also of cursed perishing bemgs, he constituted the first man a representative of his race. “Let us make mun," the race in one. To be fruitful, multiply, fill, and subdue the earth, were tlirected to the race. “ In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die.” He did die spiritually, he lost his innocence, becaine the subject of guilt, shame, and fear; and all his posterity inherit the fallen nature. Being already cursed, when afterwards arraigned and sentenced, it was only necessary to curse his enjoyinents in this work. This posterity were included, for they are subjec. ted to the same afflictions and death. If they had not been included in the sen. tence “ dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” as they were a part of his dust, not dying, it would not have been accomplished. That he represented the race appears also frou this, that the command was given to him before his wife was formed, and also because it does not appear that her eyes were opened to see her guilt, and miserable condition until he had eaten of the fruit; then " the eyes of them both were openerd."

The reinedy was provided before the creation, and nothing can be shown to prove that it is not complete in every instance when there is not actual guilt. That the woman was to have a seed the first parent heard announced in the sen. tence against the templer, whilst standing in suspense momently in expectation of that de wh which had been threatened. If the plural had been used, this could have been no intimation of the seed Christ. Why was the word woman used, which excludes the man, and not the term run, wbich would have embraced both, unless the Soir of the virgin was intended? It is all one great avhole, per. fectly seen only to God himself. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out."

A law is the revealed will of a sovereign, in which a debt of obedience is demanded, and a punishment threatened, in proportion to the nature of the offence, in case of disobedience. And here we must consider, that as a subject is bound to obey a law; so he cannot justly be deprived of that which he has a natural right to, but in case of disobedience; therefore obedience to a law gives him a right to impunity, but nothing more than this; whereas a covenant gives a person a right, upon his fulfilling the conditions thereot, to all those privileges, which are stipulated, or promised therein. This may be illustrated, by considering it as applied to human forms of government, in which it is supposed that every subject is possessed of some things, which he has a natural or political right to, which he cannot justly be deprived of, unless he forfeit them by violating the law, which, as a subject, he was obliged to obey; therefore, though his obedience give him a right to impunity, or to the undisturbed possession of his life and estate, yet this does not entitle him to any privilege, which he had no natural right to. A king is not obliged to advance a subject to great honours, because he has not forfeited his life and estate by rebellion : but in case he had promised him, as an act of favour, that he would • confer such honours upon him, upon condition of his yielding obedience in some particular instances, then he would have a right to them, not as yielding obedience to a law, but as fulfilling the conditions of a covenant.

This may be farther illustrated, by considering the case of Mephibosheth. He had a natural and legal right to his life and estate, which descended to him from his father Jonathan, because he behaved himself peaceably, and had not rebelled against David; but this did not entitle him to those special favours which David conferred upon him, such as eating bread at his table continually, 2 Sam. ix. 13. for those were the result of a covenant between David and Jonathan; in which David promised, that he would shew kindness to his house after him. Now, to apply this to our present case, if we consider our first parents only as under a law, their perfect obedience to it, it is true, would have given them a right to impunity, since punishment supposes a crime; therefore God could not, consistently with his perfections, have punished them, had they not rebelled against him. I do not say, that God could not, in consistency with his perfections, have taken away the blessings that he conferred upon them, as creatures, in a way of sovereignty, but this he could not do as a judge; so that man would. have been entirely exempted from punishment, as long as he had stood. But this would not, in the least, have entitled him to any superadded happiness, unless there had been a promise made, which gave him ground to expect it, in case he yielded

obedience; and if there were, then that dispensation, which before contained the form of a law, having this circumstance added to it, would afterwards contain the form of a covenant, and so give him a right to that super-added happiness promised therein, according to the tenor of that covenant. Therefore, if we can prove (which we shall endeavour to do, before we dismiss this subject) not only that man was obliged to yield per-. fect obedience, as being under a law; but that he was given to expect a super-added happiness, consisting either in the grace of confirmation in his present state, or in the heavenly blessedpess; then it will follow, that he would have had a right to it, in case of yielding that obedience, according to the tenor of this dispensation, as containing in it the nature of a covenant.

This I apprehend to be the just difference between a law and a covenant, as applicable to this present argument, and consequently must conclude, that the dispensation man was under, contained both the ideas of a law and a covenant: his relation to God, as a creature, obliged him to yield perfect obedience to the divine will, as containing the form of a law; and this

perfect obedience, had it been performed, would have given • him a right to the heavenly blessedness, by virtue of that pro

mise, which God was pleased to give to man in this dispensation, as it contained in it the nature of a covenant. And this will farther appear, when we consider,

(2.) The blessing promised in this covenant, namely, life. This, in scripture, is used sometimes to signify temporal, and, at other times, spiritual and eternal blessings : we have both these senses joined together in the apostle's words, where we read of the life that now is, and that which is to come, 1 Tim.. iv, 8. Moreover, sometimes life and blessing, or blessedness, are put together, and opposed to death, as containing in it all the ingredients of evil, Deut. xxx. 19. in which scripture, when Moses exhorts them to choose life, he doth not barely intend a natural life, or outward blessings, for these there is no one but chooses, whereas many are hardly persuaded to make choice of spiritual life.

In this head we are upon, we consider life, as including in it, both spiritual and eternal blessedness; so it is to be understood, when our Saviour says, Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; Matt. vii. 14. and elsewhere, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, chap. xix. 17. We must therefore conclude, that Adam having such a promise as this made to him, upon condition of perfect obedience, he was given to expect some privileges, which he was not then possessed of, which included in them the enjoyment of the heavenly blessedness; therefore this dispensation, that he was under, may well be called a covenant of life.

« PredošláPokračovať »